Mountaineering is hiking on the winter mountain. It is the mountain that is defined by the characteristic snowy and icy terrain during the winter period. It requires climbing knowledge and specific techniques for safety movement when in these situations. The beginner climbing school is the basic school to attend in order to obtain the basic knowledge and the right guidance for safe movement when in these fields. It is organized under the auspices of EOOA and the mountaineering clubs.
Mountains are beautiful but they also hide many dangers, which is why for this reason we decided to take part in the Mountaineering School of EOS Acharnon. The school gets together once a year, during the winter period. Their primary goal is to teach the dangers and how to avoid them, by learning the appropriate techniques and having the right preparation. During the school’s running, classes are taught about clothing, the appropriate equipment, the preparation, the right movements when on the mountain, survival, diet, orientation, the conditions of the shelters etc. The classes include 5 two-day trips to 4 mountains of Greece.
The first expedition for the school of 2019 was to Menalo, in central Peloponnese. With the tallest mountain peak Tade at 2100m and a fantastic spruce forest, it is one of the most beautiful mountains of the Peloponnese. Just like any other EOS trip, we began early on a Saturday morning and arrived to the ski resort at 11:30, with one intermediate stop. The weather wanted to make things difficult for us on our first trip. A sudden change in the weather and the extreme snowfall, made the police close down the road and allow entry only to vehicles with snow chains. Therefore with a little patience and hoping the snowfall might stop, I helped the bus driver put on the snow chains so we could continue towards the ski resort and the Menalo shelter.
The snowfall was so heavy that it would close down the road within a few minutes and despite the use of specialised snowmobiles, it still made reaching our destination difficult. Therefore our first day found us with a snow storm and heavy snowfall, our trainer’s quote was it’s pouring hankerchiefs, which stated just how dense the snowfall was. The weather did not permit us to move outside of the shelter so we relaxed next to the fireplace and carried out the theoretical part of the class indoors, in warmth and we rested early. Shelters follow a schedule and in most of them they turn off the lights and encourage common silence at 10 or 11 o'clock. This shelter was no exception, so as a team we kept to the schedule and by 10 o'clock we were all in bed.
The following Sunday morning scenery was magical. The dense snowfall and the snowstorm of the previous day had rewarded us beyond measure. However, our instructors clarified to us that the conditions were not positive at all for climbing, but since this is part of the school’s learning process, we had to experience this too to understand it. Very dense snowfalls hide huge dangers of avalanches and it’s wise not to climb in these situations. The particular mountain though and the big experience of our instructors allowed us to continue normally on our first two-day class trip. A white covered scenery, fresh dense snow and a bright blue sky were the images we had throughout the crossing period.
We passed by the shelter on the side of the peak and then proceeded towards Levidi with the spruce forest. We avoided heading towards the peak in case of avalanches so we initiated swimming. That what they call walking in very deep and fresh snow. We all moved in a straight line, one behind the other and the first person had the role of opening the road and giving the pace and the last person that of the broom, where he/she stays with whoever has a slower pace or some difficulty. There were spots you could stay and gaze out at the view and the beauty of nature for hours, just like at a pass "traversa" where i gazed at the opposite peaks, the snowy spruce trees and the valley of Madinia, everything coated in white and the huge spruce trees that touched the sky within the forest. We reached Levidi after 6 hours hike in the snow. We changed clothes on the bus and relaxed with a quick meal at the village centre. Early night return to Athens.
*An important observation, the most important safety precaution on the mountain was that we didn’t go alone. We always have someone with us and even more important, is to have someone with greater experience than us.
Text: λ3 team (Text editing: Mary Papageorgiou | Translate: Alex Bountros)
Photos: Tzoutis Christos
*It is forbidden to republish, use the photographic material and anything else without the consent of the creator.